This weekend, I had the pleasure of racing one of my Tucson favorites: The Run n’ Roll 8k! Anyone who runs with me can confirm that I am very sentimental about this race. It was the site of my first date with Jesse in 2011, it winds through the University of Arizona campus where I spent five years in grad school, and cash prizes have consistently drawn fast runners to the starting line. Since placing 6th at my first Run n’ Roll in 2011, I’ve half joked that it was my dream to win the race one day. I’m happy to report that I achieved that dream this year!
My winning time was nothing stellar compared to previous race champions, and was actually 11 seconds slower than I ran last year. While my performance wasn’t exactly a confidence boost, I’ve accepted it as part of marathon training. I’ve been running high mileage and focusing on endurance over speed in pursuit of a marathon PR on Nov. 1. One of the cruel ironies of this sport is that you sometimes race sub par in the midst of training harder than ever. While my time was slower than I was hoping for, I was happy with my race execution. I had planned to run a controlled first mile, build the second mile, and unleash the fury for the final 2.9 miles. As a result I ran nearly even splits with my last mile being my fastest of the day: 5:48, 5:51, 5:47, 5:52, 5:46 (My Garmin had me at 5.05 miles with a nice 5:10 pace for the final few meters). This was a huge improvement over previous years, when my splits looked more like the elevation profile of Mt. Lemmon!
In addition to putting in the miles, I’ve been focusing on the mental aspects of running over the past several weeks. I’m reading The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow, which is filled with suggestions for staying at the top of your game. A few suggestions stand out as I reflect on the Run n’ Roll and look towards the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.
MAINTAIN A GREAT PERSPECTIVE – “Take your sport seriously, but not so seriously that you completely lose perspective…Realize that one’s perspective is their reality.” Four years ago I said my lifetime goal was to win the Run n’ Roll. While this didn’t happen with the fast time I was expecting, I’ll celebrate the achievement anyway!
CHAMPIONS WIN BY NOT DEFEATING THEMSELVES – “Achieving success in sports or reaching your fitness goals is hard enough. Don’t make it harder by being overly self-critical.” I let myself be down about my time for approximately 10 minutes, then I hit the roads for my cool down. I have a marathon to run in 25 days, and I need to stay relentlessly positive!
PEAK PERFORMANCE AND A PILE OF SAND – “Achieving peak performance in sports is like trying to keep a small pile of sand from slipping from your grip. If you hold it too tightly, the sand will be squeezed out between your fingers. Likewise, if you hold it too loosely, the sand will slip through your grip.” My best performances have occurred when I cared enough but not too much about the outcome. As I look towards my marathon, I’ll try to “grip the sand” appropriately and let my body run unrestrained.
As I said to my friends over brunch after the race, any day that I can run is a good day. I am looking forward to a few more hard weeks of training before the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon!